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Building innovation into your culture
Innovation is a word that we see kicked around a lot these days. It’s a buzz word that has been following the tech industry since it began. Now it has made its way into mainstream business culture. Many larger companies even have an actual “Innovations department.”  For us mere mortals of the SME world we clearly don’t have a team with that title. Yet, innovation plays a key part of our day. If we don’t innovate in the marketplace we quickly become redundant. Innovation is necessary for product development, keeping our existing products relevant, finding better ways to do things internally and necessary to ward of competition who may be as innovative as you are. To me innovation simply means “Using imagination to solve challenges.” It doesn’t have to be complicated and very often the simplest innovations have been the most disruptive.
According to PWC, UK companies invested £16.5 billion in research and development in the last fiscal year (ending June 2016), accounting for 4% of the global total (£446 billion) and ranking as the eighth highest investment by country.  That’s a lot of money being spend on “Using imagination to solve challenges.”
Mark Couttie, Strategy& Partner in London, commented: “Innovation is an essential component of competitive advantage and UK business leaders clearly recognise the importance of R&D to their future success. Brexit has only made R&D investment more pertinent in the UK. It’s vital that companies continue investing and remain agile to exploit new opportunities. To do this they need to ensure they have the right talent in place, invest in ambitious innovation models, and employ a strategic approach to M&A to help build the capabilities they will need to thrive.”
Next month we are holding a Master Class on how to claim money back from the government for the money you spend in innovation. (Sign up here)
R&D tax credits are a great way to get money back for all your hard work. In the meantime, here are some ideas you can use in your business to foster the innovation that you want.
  1. Ensure your team knows they have the freedom to come up with new ideas. Value those ideas and encourage them. Give feedback and give them the kudos when they come up with a good solution.
  2. Encourage cross learning. Tell your team to self-educate and go to seminars. Pay for them to attend tech events and network with other tech professionals. The more they learn the more they can bring those ideas back into the office with them.
  3. Hire people who are passionate about problem solving and are solution orientated. The inquisitive mind will bring lots of ideas with them and will also be already thinking in an innovative way. This will also challenge and encourage other team members to start doing the same thing.
  4. Give them time to work on their innovations. This works particularly well for Google for instance. They have Google Friday’s, were people can work on their own projects however they share the IP with Google.
  5. Encourage collaboration with other businesses. Very often the “big” success comes when businesses work together. If you have a product that will blend well with another, then create a joint venture to work on this together. Use their team to innovate on your products and vice versa. Time and time again it has been shown that this type of partnership leads to massive breakthroughs in all kinds of tech areas

Innovation is already everywhere yet by fostering an environment where your staff and rewarded and encouraged to innovate it will ensure that you are continuously improving your products and keeping ahead of the competition.

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